Teaching Sociology through Community-Engaged Research on a Veteran’s Transitional Housing Program

Friday, 20 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Mieko YAMADA, Purdue University Fort Wayne, USA
In collaboration with the director of a veteran transitional housing program, I have created the “Qualitative Research” course, which is based on community-engaged research. In the course, undergraduate students are expected to learn how to design and conduct qualitative research. In this course, students are expected to engage in class lectures, read assigned readings, gather and analyze data, write up your work, and present results and findings to the program.

This community-engaged research is designed as an evaluation project and aims to investigate the impact of the veteran’s transitional housing. More specifically, it is intended to find how effectively the program serves to connect homeless veterans, staff, and volunteers and identify areas to improve the delivery of services by the program. As the preliminary project, students conduct participant observations to understand staff members’ experiences related to the program.

Through this community-engaged research, both community members and students benefit during the research process, gaining mutual trust and creating positive relationships. The program director and staff become our research partners and offer a research site where students could practice their sociological knowledge and skills. Students also foster their understanding of the local community. Meanwhile, the transitional housing program enhances its ability to ensure the community priorities and address its own issues and needs, while gaining a better understanding of the research process and planning how they may approach evaluation research in the future.

This community-engaged research attempts to develop our knowledge about homeless veterans and find effective ways of helping them integrating them back to the society. The veteran’s transitional housing program research will facilitate our understanding of veterans’ cultures. I hope this will contribute to the development of education for military and veteran students on college compuses.